Get Your Motor Running
28 Jun 2013
This month Google made a strong pronouncement about mobile-ready websites, stating that they will possibly be demoting sites that are not ‘mobile-friendly’ or configured correctly for mobiles.
Although they have said the demotion ‘will only impact mobile, smartphone friendly, search results and only impact web pages that are not smartphone friendly or misconfigured when it comes to being smartphone friendly’ it just shows the power of the smartphone and just how much traffic is coming from them.
What does this mean in lay terms? Basically, that sites which aren’t smartphone friendly will suffer in terms of their SEO – which means a downturn in business. Brass tacks, it means less cashflow.
What is startling is the number of sites which have not been configured properly. A recent article showed that more than 90% of Fortune 500 company websites were not up to Google mobile standards – even though 45% of them were in theory offering dedicated mobile sites. How does this work? Basically the sites have not been configured correctly, presenting smartphone users with the dreaded ‘Error 404 – page not found’ message for example. Disney, GE and JP Morgan were notable exceptions – but they were obviously in the minority.
So how do you make sure you are going to get the most from your site in terms of using that dreaded Engine? Google has been very open about what sites need to do to optimise their mobile-readiness, and have been sharing common problems and solutions. A few examples of this are below:
- Fake redirects – Some organisations have only mobilised parts of their site, so when a user searches for a blog, for instance, and the blog is not mobile ready they are redirected to the homepage, which is mobile ready, Google say that is is bad practice and will be reflected in your search rankings
- 404 errors – Usually, when someone requests a page that doesn’t exist, a server will return a 404 error. In short ensure your mobile site does not have 404 errors. If your content is not available in a smartphone-friendly format, serve the desktop page instead which kind of contradicts the number 1… but I guess Google make the rules
- Unplayable videos on smartphone devices – Many websites embed videos in a way that works well on desktops but is unplayable on smartphone devices. For example, if content requires Adobe Flash, it won’t be playable on an iPhone or on Android versions 4.1 and higher.
If your site is not smartphone savvy, or if you aren’t certain about its configuration, then now is the time to get it right – Google have indicated that demotions, while not currently official, will be on the cards extremely soon. If you don’t want to face a downturn – then become smartphone savvy. Read up on what the changes mean, and don’t do an ostrich act and think that smartphone traffic is not highly important – or in fact essential – when considering any redesign or a new site.
It will be your back pocket that ultimately feels the squeeze if you do.